Chapter Seventeen

After their conversation, the Doctor gathered his mate, Tania and companions together at the bow of the ship and told them what he learned from Circady.

"Well at least he's being honest now," Amy said when he finished.

"At least we think he's telling the truth," Rory said, "he could still be lying and making up this story so you'll stop badgering him. I still would keep an eye on him."

"I agree and I intend to," the Doctor said to him. "But at least we have something to work with here. And we still don't know if they're capturing merpeople. Furnish may be innocent but someone else might have done and he doesn't know about it. I'm sure the boats spread out and cover a wide area."

"And you think Zan might know something?" River said.

"Again, I don't know for sure. But it wouldn't be the first time someone tried to misdirect me and throw me off the scent. I refuse to believe that someone could capture a merperson and keep it completely hidden from the rest of the village. Someone would talk, especially since Furnish boasted about capturing that five foot rainbow carp and proudly showed it to me."

"Are you going to put them in jail if they're doing this?" Tania said to him.

"I don't know but if they are lying and taking another species for their own gain, they need to be stopped," the Doctor said to her. "If that means jail, so be it. Just as long as the townspeople learn to leave Circady's people alone and vice versa."

They fell silent when Furnish called for the net to be raised and everyone hurried into position. Circady, at the stern of the boat, turned around and folded his arms over his chest, a scowl on his face, while he watched them bring up the net. The Doctor noticed his fists were clenching and he was shaking with silent anger as the men pulled the net into the boat and began collecting the dying fish. The Doctor saw the speckled trout and rainbow carp and what appeared to be a large grey shark in the midst of them. The shark was feebly snapping at the flopping fish, trying to devour them even as he was dying. Furnish saw it and called for a spear and one of his crewman rushed off to get it. While he was doing that, the Doctor noticed a large teal colored fish tail buried at the back under another mass of wriggling fish. The fish pressed the tail up against the top part of the net but the Doctor could still see a bit of side to side movement. When the man returned and speared the shark's back, Circady turned away and looked out at the water, unable to bear it any longer.

Then one of the men grabbed hold of the teal tail and pulled it out and everyone gasped when they realized it was a young mermaid. The little girl looked like she was no more than six years old. She had long silver hair with streaks of grey in it and grey eyes to match. Her body was pale, nearly translucent and the scales on her tail shimmered in the sunlight. The men stopped working and stared at the frightened mermaid in a stunned silence. The Doctor looked at them and knew Furnish was telling the truth about having never seen a mermaid before since he was just as dumbstruck as the others. Circady had turned around upon hearing the silence and he let out a howl of rage as he ran towards the child. The Doctor ran to her as well and got to her before he did. He knelt down to her, trying to protect her from the men once they recovered from their shock.

"See, they are nothing but thieves!" Circady roared as he pointed to Furnish. "They take our people and sell them!"


Circady looked at the Doctor when he barked at him. He pointed to Furnish's stunned face.

"Look at him. They're all shocked, Circady. Furnish told me he didn't think merpeople existed. The shock on his face is genuine!"

"Your people?" one of the men said to Circady when he recovered from his shock.

Circady raised his head proudly.

"I am Prince Circady of the merpeople," he said. "And you humans are invading our territory."

"What do you mean, you have legs," another crewman said to him.

Circady raised his robe and everyone gasped when they saw his blue legs. The Doctor groaned and stood up.

"Thank you, Circady, for blowing your cover," he said sarcastically.

"How is this possible?" Furnish said, shaking his head. "They're human, at least the top half is."

"But they're not human, they're merpeople," the Doctor said. "There are many species of aliens out there who are humanoid, myself included."

"What do you mean?" Furnish said.

"I'm a Time Lord from Gallifrey, I'm not human either," he said. "This is why your people need to go into space and stop being so isolated. How long have you lot been on this planet?"

"Generations," Furnish said.

"At least ten generations," one of his men said.

"Ten generations, at least. And you, Circady, how long have the merpeople lived in the oceans?"

"Millennia, eons, it is not known if we came here or if we were born here but we have been here far longer than ten generations," Circady said, sneering at the men.

"And if Circady is right, you are the colonizers of their planet," the Doctor said to Furnish. "Now perhaps they didn't claim the land but the merpeople certainly claimed the ocean and you're overfishing in their territory."

"But we need to eat," a crewmember said. "We live here too. Don't we deserve to live?"

"Yes, you do," the Doctor said. "And ten generations is quite a long time, enough for you lot to become residents of this planet. But now that you know there is another species, both you and the merpeople will need to find a way to coexist so both species can survive and flourish here. And that includes building spaceships and trading with your neighbors and others for the things you need. You don't need to rely solely on fish. Make it a part of your diet but not the bulk of it, let Circady's people have their share as well. There are ways to coexist peacefully and find a way to live off the land responsibly so everyone can benefit."

He knelt down to the frightened girl and smiled warmly at her while she looked around at the humans with wide eyed terror.

"It's alright, I'm the Doctor and I'm here to help," he said to her. "What's your name?"

"Sapphire," she said softly.

"Sapphire, that's a beautiful name," the Doctor said. "What happened to you? Where are your mum and dad?"

Sapphire pointed to the side of the ship.

"In the water?" the Doctor asked her.

Sapphire nodded.

"What happened?" the Doctor said gently. "Just tell me, ignore them," he added when she looked at the others.

He got Sapphire to focus on him and she told him that she had been swimming with her parents when she saw a shark. She swam towards it, curious about what it was when suddenly this net rose up from under her and the shark and she was pressed down as fish were caught in it. The Doctor nodded sympathetically when she was finished telling her story and looked at Circady.

"Do you know her?" he asked.

"No, but nobility have white hair," he said. "She's someone of worth."

"Everyone is worthy as far as I'm concerned. But she can't stay here, she needs to go back to her parents," the Doctor said.

"Wait! She could convince the humans to leave us alone," Circady said.

"She's a child," Amy said. "She needs to go back to her parents."

Circady thought for a moment and then suddenly he ripped off his robe and before anyone could stop him, he ran to the side of the ship and jumped into the ocean.

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